Traditions, Customs, and Habits

by | Jan 11, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

Jesus makes all things new.  Hence, he questions traditions and customs, most of all, those that veil his true face.

Jesus and his disciples are at a wedding.  There too is his mother.  And the wedding, no doubt, follows the traditions and customs of the Jews.

But as Jesus steps in at his mother’s trusting behest, there is the bypassing of two traditions.  In the first place, the stone jars for water to use for ritual washings are now for choice wine.

In the second place, one thing does not go by custom.  For what is common is for hosts to bring out the choice wine first; then the cheaper wine, when guests have drunk too much.  But at Cana, the choice wine turns up later.

There, in fact, Jesus’ first sign questions all traditions around the law.  For as wine is better there than water, so are grace and truth, than the law.

Yes, the one who gives fulness to the law and the prophets goes beyond the religion of the Jews.  That is why we are to be more just than the scribes and the Pharisees.  And it is enough for us, of course, to love as Jesus to be choice wine, in the place of water for ritual cleansing.

Love to the end, in place of traditions from the law

The Father and the Son love one another.  But the love that binds them flows over in a pouring out of love for us humans.  That is why the Word who is with God becomes flesh and lives with us.

As God-with-us, he is there where we are in our lives.  In joys and lights, in sorrows and shadows, in ecstasies and glories.  Hence, he is with the bride and the groom; he bails them out.

And thus Jesus, not like the guardians of the law, does what he teaches.  And he takes issue with their traditions.  For to keep them, they let go of what God commands.  And they lose sight of what matters most in the law:  justice, love, mercy, faith, faithfulness.  Needless to say, it is the calling of husbands and wives to live and mirror what matters most in the law.  And such a calling is for all of us too.

Yes, we are here to love God with our whole being and our neighbor as ourselves.  To rejoice with those who rejoice, to weep with those who weep  (SV.EN XII:222).

But does our love make it known that we are Jesus’ disciples?  Does God matter most to us?  Do we not make others turn away from him?  Does he rejoice in us?

Do we truly love one another?  Is the Spirit who seeks the common good palpable in us?

Are we the water for the hour of washing, not the wine for the better hour of the cross?  For only love, to the giving up of the body and the shedding of blood, washes us of our sins.

Are we not a self-absorbed Church, where there is too much clutter due to human traditions?

Lord Jesus, you are God-with-us and you fulfill the law, the prophets and all traditions of religion.  Make us all wholly new:  every heart, word and deed.

16 January 2022
2nd Sunday in O. T. (C)
Is 62, 1-5; 1 Cor 12, 4-11; Jn 2, 1-11

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